The Home Opener: the series that the team and the fans had been waiting for. The unveiling of the WS banner, the ring ceremony, the general warm fuzzy homecoming feel of it all had long been anticipated.
In a pregame ceremony Monday, the WS banner was unveiled at a snail’s pace, which I would like to think was just the universe’s way of reminding us how long we had waited for this moment. Rich Dauer, who had a brush with death immediately following the World Series parade downtown, threw out the first pitch to AJ Hinch in what was an emotional & beautiful moment.
At Tuesday’s pregame ceremony, the Astros were presented with their unbelievably gorgeous 2017 World Series Championship rings. Recipients at the ceremony included Astros Hall of Famers Craig Biggio & Jeff Bagwell as well as future Hall of Famer Tio Carlos Beltran. Here’s a video you can watch about the creation of these rings.
My goodness, it was nice to see Charlie Morton back on the mound. There’s a sense of calm when he is the starting pitcher. Even after seeing the bases loaded at the top of the 2nd w a single to Adam Jones, Astros folklore legend Colby Rasmus hit by a pitch and a walk to Pedro Alvarez, you can still have confidence in Morton’s mental game that he’ll come out of the inning without giving up a run. He did. The only run given up by Astros pitching was a homerun off of Colin McHugh’s first pitch of the night: a four-seam fastball up the middle to Trey Mancini at the top of the 9th. As for the Astros offense, 6 runs were scored off of 11 hits, including a homerun by Mr. Marvelous Marwin Gonzalez and Brian McCann scoring from 1st base on a triple from Derek Fisher, making that Fisher’s 2nd triple of the season. Astros win 6-1.
A rough night for Justin Verlander is a decent night for many pitchers. After striking out the first two batters, his fifth pitch to Jonathan Schoop was lifted up and into the Crawford Boxes. Carlos Correa got the crowd going in the bottom of the first with an inside the park homerun. It is the fourth by an Astro in Minute Maid Park and the first since 2014. Top of the 4th, Josh Reddick saved a fly ball to the right from becoming a three run homer by absolutely robbing Trey Mancini with a leaping grab, making it a sac fly. Fast forward to the top of the 6th, after two fastballs on either side of the plate, Verlander let one rip right up the middle to Adam Jones for a go-ahead two run homer. But Reddick came to win. After a single by Correa, Reddick sent a flyball into the stands to put the Astros on top again. And just to make sure his team got the W, Reddick sealed the deal with a Grand Slam off of Nestor Cortes Jr to make the final score 10-6.
Dallas Keuchel started out game 3 the same way Justin Verlander started out game 2, allowing a run in the first inning. Keuchel continued to struggle through the fifth, getting up to 104 pitches, striking out three and walking four. Not his best but not awful considering a couple of errors & missed opportunities on the field. Hector Rondon had a solid 6th, while Brad Peacock gets the win after pitching very well through the final 3 innings allowing no runs on just 2 hits. The offense lost a little steam today, unless your name is Josh Reddick who went 3 for 4. The go ahead run scored in the 7th looked awfully familiar with Derek Fisher at 2nd as Bregman hit a line drive to left field to. Game 5, anyone? Final score: 3-2
A series sweep. I’ll take it. It was good to see Reddick’s bat come alive, Alex Bregman continues to impress at third base and the Astros look focused and very immune to this “World Series hangover” folks are waiting for. Tomorrow the Astros have a much earned day off and then host the San Diego Padres this weekend for a 3 game series, starting with Lance McCullers Jr on the mound.
Series W-L: 3-0